Villains You Love To Hate…or Hate To Love?

Howdy all!  It’s great to be back in Wildflower Junction.  I’ve missed my P&P Fridays!   

I really enjoyed Cheryl’s post yesterday and it got me to reevaluating my topic for today.  One of the main reasons I love Romance is that guarantee that no matter the struggles our hero and heroine’s go through, good will always prevail over evil…and the cowboy will always get his gal–once she’s put him through his proper paces, of course.  But what about our villains?  Can they also find hope and redemption through the course of our hero and heroine’s journey?  Do we want them to find new peace and understanding so that they can have a happy ending as well…or are they so bad they simply…have got to go?  A year or so ago I began writing and exploring a new kind of villain…bad guys who earn their villain moniker, but have chinks on their hardened exterior, revealing a somewhat chivalrous intention behind their dastardly deeds, and a vulnerability in their character which gives them an eery appeal, and room to grow. 

A few nights ago I rewatched one of my favorite movies, 3:10 to Yuma.  While this film Villain 1lacks a central romance, it has villain characterization in spades! Aside from absolutely stunning dialogue (not a single word wasted), I’m enthralled by the villains of this movie—and there is a whole cast of them!  A bounty hunter, the deputy henchman of the railroad, and a band of murdering thieves (among others).  These villains have varying degrees of villainy, and at the center of them all is the bible-quoting bad-guy ringleader, Wade—a fast gun with a quick mind and a cold heart. And yet, from the beginning we’re given glimpses of decency in this villain, his tendency to protect the innocent.  He seems to admire those who try to live an honest life. Even though at times his claims otherwise, he defends the true good guys at the risk of his own life. 

Is Wade bad? Oh yeah! He’s a hardened killer, and professes to be rotten as hell. And yet, he also reveals a method to his badness. While the bounty hunter and the railroad henchman wear the facade of good guys, it’s the villain Wade who sees them from what they are—the kind of men who don’t mind harming the innocent for personal gain. For the truly bad, Charliethis villain has no mercy. The second in command of Wade’s band of thieves is the brand of villain I started out with in my first few westerns. Charlie enjoys the power of evoking fear and doesn’t show any discretion between shooting an opponent or an innocent.  His loyalties don’t go beyond idolizing his leader and seeking his own enjoyment—which turn out to be his downfall.  In the end, it’s the main villain who chooses good over evil, and yet…he’s still bad.

One of my favorite Wade quotes, just before he tosses a man off a cliff who’d insulted his mother, is, “Even bad men love their mamas.”  As this movie progresses, you begin to see just how large a role his mama played in developing this villain’s character.  At eight years old, he was a good boy who did as his mother told him. He sat at a train station and read the bible from cover to cover, just as his mother instructed, finishing it in three days.  Even at eight, he was a wiz, and the bible quotes suddenly become very poignant…and sad.  Every time this movie ends I’m left wondering if his mama had green eyes. Anyone else have that thought after watching this movie?  If you haven’t seen it yet—it’s a MUST for any western fan!

I’ve developed a real appreciation for villains who can tug at my MAVERICKheartstrings.  In my latest western MAVERICK WILD (Out this month!), I had a lot of fun with a cast of villains. While some simply have their day of reckoning, there are others who emerge with a new outlook on life and the distruction they cause for Chance and Cora Mae–though one or two may be forced into finding true remorse for their actions of ill intent  😉

How about you…do you love those villains you don’t know wether to curse or root for? 

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24 thoughts on “Villains You Love To Hate…or Hate To Love?”

  1. Great post, Stacey. I’ve seen villains who became the hero of a follow-up book. It makes for a powerful story, although I’ve yet to try it myself. Sometimes the villain can be the dark side of the hero (oh, gee, I think I’d better go get coffee and wake up) 🙂

  2. Hi Elizabeth! Same here, no recurring villain for a hero. That concept does sound like fun. So by beign his dark side…do you mean bipolar? 😉

    Thank you for posting 🙂

  3. One of my very favorite villains is Alan Rickman. He just brings true dimensions to all his characters.
    In Quigley Down Under, plus the original Die Hard and with Kevin Cosner in Robin Hood.
    He’s kind of lost in the part on the Harry Potter series as Snape.
    I always think he’s the way a villain really ought to be.

  4. Good morning, Mary 🙂
    Fabulous, Villains! I think you’ve hit on the key element–understanding and perhaps sympathyzing with the development of their hoslity. Thanks, Mary!

  5. Stacey, what a great discussion on villains. I love villains who can be saved eventually, villains whose motivations are so compelling we understand them and feel sorry for them. They can become the heroes of the next book.

  6. Mona!! I can’t agree more. I haven’t had the chance to redeem a villain with his/her own book yet, but I sure hope to 😉

    I’m looking forward to your deubt book, TO LOVE A HERO!

    Thanks so much for stopping in 🙂

  7. Wow, very interesting post, Stacey! There have been a few villains I’ve fallen for but only if they show hints at being redeemable. If he’s bad simply for the sake of being bad, then I have no use for him *g*

  8. When I read your post, I realized that hubby and I would LOVE this movie! For some reason it also made me think of the Desperado movies…and Alex McArthur aahhh. Now THAT was a villian (not in my site but a terribly wronged man) but anyway, a villian to LOVE!

    JMHO 🙂

  9. Hi Stacey, yeah I’ve missed reading my fellow Fillys’ blogs. You all always have interesting things to say and stuff to leave me thinking about! Loved your blog today on villians and the intriguing questions you raised. I thought I might be one of a few who glimpsed the character Ben Wade’s soft heart. He did care about the downtrodden, the honest men and women who lived the life he wanted to have. 3:10 to Yuma was a lesson in psychology. I truly believe that all of us have a dark side. Some let that darkness overtake them while others can keep it under control. I loved Ben Wade’s character.

    When I wrote “Redemption” I created a villian who seemed really the baddest of the bad. But, when it came down to the nitty gritty he couldn’t let himself kill the heroine. Instead, he saved her from the other villain. I showed that he had some good in him even when it seemed all was lost. He was one of my favorite characters to write.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post! I enjoyed it. Have a great day.

  10. Hi Stacey! Great blog. By coincidence, I ordered 3:10 to Yuma on Netflix last Monday. I’ve been meaning to see it since it was in the theatre and now I can’t wait. I just read Cora and Chance’s story and I see what you mean about your villians. You did such an excellent job making them believable. I was even glad for the one in the end and that’s saying something considering how mad at her I was throughout the book. 🙂

  11. Hi Carla! LOL! I’m so glad you were able to forgive my villainess 😉 I think Chance and Cora Mae felt mostly compassion for her man…who was plenty bad in his own right *G*

    You are in for a NetFlix TREAT!!! I’m tellin’ ya, there isn’t a dull moment in 3:10 🙂

    Thank you for stopping in to post!

  12. Hi Stacey,
    Chiming in a bit late to say hello. I loved the remake of 3:10 to Yuma and yes, Russell Crowe portrayed a great villian. I’ve learned that they aren’t as one dimensional as we might guess. There’s a great rule that my aunt taught me, “There’s good in everyone.” Even if it’s hard to find and teensy-weensy, including our villians. And I turned my villainess from one western into the heroine in another story. It was tricky, but can be done!!
    Great blog today!!

  13. Hi Charlene 🙂 A villainess turned heroine, I love it! Which book is that?

    Your aunt sounds like a lovely, wise woman 🙂 Revealing those glimmers of goodness in a villain certainly adds to their depth and intrigue, making them more touchable–though I’m not sure that’s the right word *lol*

  14. I love bad boys, so I’m biased. I always think there is SOME good in there, somewhere. Which means I love it when authors create villians that have depth and give the reader a glimpse into their head and hope that maybe, possibly, their reason for being bad is justified in some way… even if only to themselves LOL

  15. A fetish for bad boys….why am I not surprised 😉 I agree, Tawny, love the idea of them having the hope that thier resoning is justtified. Makes thier conviction so much more believeable.

    Thanks you for posting 🙂

  16. One that comes to mind is Jack Palance’s role in the movie, “Shane”. That sly smile that he gives and the way he talks. Another movie has a villain, played by Kirk Douglas. He has the sheriff’s son tied to the bed and the villain keeps his gun focused on the boy. The drama in this part of the movie keeps rising. Another movie where, this time, the villain is a woman is in, “The Shepherd of the Hills”, starring John Wayne and Beulah Bondi, as the villain. At the end of the movie Beulah spreads gasoline, or some kind of flaming substance, in a circle around her son’s bed, with him in it. He is dead before this happens. Then she sets the gasoline on fire and she and her son and the house is burned to the ground. A good movie.

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